As many Filipinos the world over celebrate Megan Young's historic win as the first Filipina to be crowned Miss World, The Australian Filipina talks to the local community's own Miss Philippines-Australia 2012, JOANNA CUBELO, about what the pageant meant to her.
My reign as Miss Philippines-Australia 2012 has been amazing and truly life-changing.
When I joined the pageant I never would have envisioned the impact such a title would have on my life and those around me. As a young woman looking to embark on new and exciting experiences with a drive to give back to the community, the past year stands testament to those aspirations; it has exceeded all expectations and created a reservoir of memories in which I will cherish forever.
I have been proud to be an ambassador and representative of the Filipino-Australian community through various events and commitments and meeting various community organisations and leaders. The experience has increased my awareness and appreciation for the Filipino-Australian community in which I am proud to be a part of and has opened my eyes to the selfless and hard working individuals that sacrifice their time and efforts to give back to the community.
The highlight of my reign was visiting the Philippines in June 2013. It was exceptionally rewarding to see all our efforts and hard work in fundraising and raising awareness come to fruition. We visited and donated funds to the ‘Home for the Angels’ Orphanage, a fond memory I hold close to my heart. This organisation, founded by the Atienza family, encapsulates compassion and benevolence to help abandoned and abused children. It was rewarding to know that our donations will go a long way in providing for their needs and reaffirmed the purpose to which we had strived to achieve.
During our visit to the Technological University of the Philippines, we awarded six scholarships to selected students and this exemplified the value and importance of tertiary education in paving a brighter future for their dreams, their families and ultimately, our country.
Many people might challenge the relevance and value of beauty contests but the charitable component of the pageant gave me a means to give back to the community.
I was not sponsored by an association during my quest for the crown but through the overwhelming support of my family and friends, I was able to raise almost $6,000 for charity. The other candidates raised funds, too, and it has been utterly uplifting to see how the efforts and hard work of our small group could significantly impact on the lives of so many within the community.
On a personal level, the pageant was a new and exciting experience, and a way to challenge myself.
I think Megan Young is a truly deserving winner of the crown! Despite the controversy surrounding her and the pageant, she was able to persevere and take home the title as "our" first Miss World. She exudes femininity, elegance and strength through her relentless hard work and efforts against adversity; epitomising the essence of a true beauty queen.
Her achievement on this international platform - being selected out of more than 160 candidates around the world - empowers me as a young woman and has truly made the Philippines proud.
This article is an extract from an article Joanna Cubelo wrote for the upcoming 2013 Miss Philippines-Australia pageant to be held this Labour Day weekend (October 7, Monday) from 4pm at the Fairfield Showground. More info on www.pasc.org.au or visit their Facebook page.